Current conditions at Sandy Beach Park
Beach & Nearshore
Sandy Beach lies at the base of Koko Crater, or Kohelepelepe, as the mountain was known to the Hawaiians. In the legends of Pele, the goddess of the volcano, one of her sisters attempted to attract Kamapua’a, a handsome demigod, by throwing her vagina to this spot. Kohelepelepe means labia minor.
Sandy Beach was not accessible by automobile until October 1931, when the newly constructed coastal road following the cliffs from Hanauma Bay was completed. As the only sand beach along this rocky coast. The name later evolved into Sandy Beach.
With the opening of the new road in 1931 Sandy Beach attracted sightseers and campers, along with the fishers, but few swimmers. Residents stayed out of the dangerous shorebreak and strong rip currents that are common here. During the late 1940s and 1950s, O’ahu’s young bodysurfers began to find their way to Sandy, and taught themselves how to ride the shorebreak. By the 1960s, the beach had become just as popular among bodysurfers as nearby Makapu’u. In 1968, when the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation improved the park and installed a comfort station, Sandy became one of the most popular beaches among teenagers and young adults on O’ahu. Sandy’s reputation as a wave-riding site was solidified in the 1970s with the introduction of the bodyboard, and today the beach is regarded as one of the best bodyboarding sites in Hawai’i.
Sandy’s famous waves are formed by a quick change in the ocean bottom. A combination of sand patches and shallow rock ledges, the bottom at the water’s edge drops off abruptly to an average depth of eight to ten feet. This abrupt change in depth creates the steep, hard-breaking waves in Sandy’s shorebreak, which in turn generate its rip currents.
One of the problems at a popular beach like Sandy is that many experienced bodysurfers are always in the water, making riding the waves look easy. Visitors unfamiliar with the beach misjudge the dangers and often get into trouble. For this reason, lifeguards have been stationed at Sandy daily since February 1971.
Besides the shorebreak, Sandy has several other popular bodysurfing and bodyboarding sites, Pipe Littles and Half Point in front of the comfort station, and one site for board surfing, Full Point, at the east end of the beach. Full Point breaks on the edge of an offshore reef.